Manchester City’s 1-0 loss to Manchester United dashed the Citizens’ chances to win the title and clearly showed that Pep Guardiola will need to make many changes to the roster, if he wants to bring the team back to the top.
Marcus Rashford’s goal in the 18th minute of Sunday’s match at Etihad Stadium was enough for Manchester United to beat their rivals and ensure Manchester City will fail to win the title, with City’s top four finish now in serious jeopardy as well.
The main problem that was raised from the match was City’s ineffectiveness, both defensively and offensively, which has cost them dearly all season. More specifically, after winning their first five games this season, they have taken only 36 points from the subsequent 24 games.
In the meantime, there have been eight defeats, one in every three matches, while they’ve won just two of their 13 games against top-half teams this year. Moreover, they haven’t managed to claim back-to-back victories in the last 21 games, and they’ve scored only 13 goals in 14 away matches.
Despite winning the Capital One Cup and reaching the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time, it seems the side has been in a downfall in the last couple of seasons. So can Guardiola turn things around?
City’s biggest issue is not the current manager Manuel Pellegrini, nor the executives Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain, but the players themselves, as most of them have been out of form this season. Yaya Toure, David Silva and Sergio Aguero have performed well so far, but the remaining squad has let them down.
In addition, key players, like captain Vincent Kompany and Kevin De Bruyne, have suffered serious injuries, and are unable to help the team, so Pep’s prime challenge will be to rejuvenate the team.
Certainly, the Citizens will need to add many top-class players, especially in the defensive and midfield areas, in order to become the team that Guardiola wants them to become.
It’s also worth mentioning that most of the club’s players (like Fernando, Fernandinho and Pablo Zabaleta) are decent backup players to the first-team, and that’s why Guardiola should insist on acquiring top-class players, who will be ready to immediately find their place in the first-team.
It’s also possible that the Spaniard will try to give much playing time to the academy’s players, who seem ready to be part of the active squad.
The presence of both Soriano and Begiristain, despite their mediocre decisions regarding the acquisition of players during the previous transfer periods, will certainly let Guardiola make the changes he wants, which will help the Citizens be ultra-competitive in all competitions.
However, what is crucial right now is for the team to retain its place within the top four in order to qualify to the UEFA Champions League. David James, the former City goalkeeper, had predicted his old club would not even finish in the top four.
But, if this happens, Pep Guardiola will be under pressure from the first day to bring the team back to the top. And that’s why it will be vital for him and the club to have top-class players in the roster that will be able to get the job done.